BY Nathan Butler
The 2011 Sprint All-Star race started off with a bang, in the 2011 Sprint Cup Showdown. The race was dominated by driver David Ragan, who held on to win his first Showdown victory. Jack Roush said, “David has one of the fastest Ford’s this weekend”, and it definitely showed! After starting on the pole, David knew he had to execute, and not allow his opportunity to go to waste. David finished P1, and Brad Keselowski finished P2, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the fan vote.
The big show, aka the Sprint Cup All-Star race, left us with much mixed emotions. With a weekend that was greatly dominated by Ford’s, a Ford was in Victory Lane. The first segment was a constant back and forth fight between Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle. Greg would eventually pull out to a big lead and not look back heading into the end of the first segment. One driver that I was paying close attention to heading into the end of the segment was Carl Edwards. Between him and Matt Kenseth, they were running faster times than Greg Biffle, but couldn’t seem to get ahead of the majority of the traffic.
By the start of the 2nd segment, Carl jumped out front and did not look back, as he would hold on to win the 2nd segment. Once again, Kyle Busch was right there in P2, but just couldn’t manage to get ahead. Several times Kyle had his car where he wanted it on the restarts, but by the time they finished a lap or two, Carl was able to stretch the lead about 1-2sec’s.
Nothing changed much heading into the end of the 3rd segment where Carl would hold off Kyle Busch. It was almost comical to see the 2nd and 3rd segments being so close. I thought Matt Kenseth would be the “dark horse” as we ended the 3rd segment. The “Killer Bees” had a really great pit stop, putting them from P7 to P3, setting him up for the potential finish he had wanted.
NASCAR has done a great job preparing the Sprint All-Star Race with a 10 lap shootout towards the end. In most cases we see 1-2 cautions within that “10 lap shootout”, this was not the case tonight. Cars began to spread out, which in return, did not leave such an exciting finish most fans were hoping for. Carl jumped out to about a 1.5sec lead, but saw it dwindle fast in the last 2 laps. Kyle was coming fast, interesting enough, it was almost like Kyle waited too long in deciding to make a charge toward the front.
There wasn’t a car all night that could stick to the bottom of the track like Carl’s with that much power! I was really impressed with the Ford package for this weekend, and wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something similar to next week.
Some driver quotes:
Greg Biffle – “I was really good in the beginning and then I was a little too loose and we tightened it up a little bit. I guess the track tightened up. I thought the track was gonna free up the cooler it got and the faster it go, but it didn’t. It tightened up, so on the last 10-lap deal I didn’t free it up enough. We had a really, really fast car, but I just wish I would have made a few more adjustments.”
David Ragan—“A top 10 and it was certainly a fun race. I felt like we had a car that could have contended for the win, it’s just all about the track position but everybody is trying to get that track position throughout the race. Our UPS We Love Logistics car did a nice job. We can’t complain.”
Final Running Order for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race—
Car #’s– 99, 18, 00, 14, 16, 17, 11, 6, 29, 39, 5, 42, 22, 88, 24, 33, 1, 2, 25, 78, and 4
Next Up: Coca~Cola 600 (Sunday 6pm est.)